Monday, September 01, 2008

Tech Planning Primer needed?

Do you know all you need to know so you will have a top-notch technology planning document?

Without a doubt, most of us have gone through the process of developing a written technology plan.  Well, if we examine our efforts closely and objectively, will we vote that we've done the very best job possible?

Will we think our plan is the best it can be?  Or, are there areas in which we think we can improve?

This goes to the core of the "why" question for having a plan in the first place.

Why do we have technology plans?  To get that federal money?  To satisfy some externally-imposed requirement?  Because the organization next door has one, so we feel compelled to follow suit?

Why do we go through all the laborious, time-consuming effort to create a tech plan?  And, when all is said and done, is it all worth it?

I wonder how many technology plans--in the United States, alone--are created purely out of a burning desire to build a clear roadmap for the future.  And, how many of these will include thorough sets of objectives and goals that have been vetted and, thus, have earned broad-based support among constituents?  

From my experience, the percentage of school districts developing technology plans for all the right reasons is very small.  Most of the school leaders with whom I talk will tell me that they have to develop a tech plan so they can "get our money."

Yes, money is important--perhaps even crucial.  However, if this is the main reason for crafting a tech plan, the process is flawed from the beginning.  Granted, some great outcomes may result even from flawed processes, but just imagine how much better results could be!

So, my question to you is:  Do you think there is a need for a technology planning primer?

I have begun recording a series of podcast episodes that go through the technology planning process from start to finish.  I am using all the resources that NCTP (National Center for Technology Planning) has garnered over the years.  But...

if I continue to build it, will you come?

I'm depending upon you to let me know.  What do you think?  And, why?  What pieces would you like me to include in this program?

Leave a comment here, or else shoot me an email.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Encouragement: A Planning Vitamin


How often do you feel like you're just paddling in still water?  Using up loads of energy, but not getting anything for it?  

Have you ever seen one of those little mechanical horses out in front of a discount store?  Children  can pop in a coin, then climb aboard the horse and ride, ride, ride while music plays.  But, no matter how long they ride the horse, when the time runs out, they're still in the same place as when they started.  

They've ridden a long time, but made no progress.

Do you ever feel like that?

I do.

So, what's the antidote?

Recently, I was feeling a bit unproductive--and the more I thought about it, the more unproductive I became.  I felt myself slipping into a feeling of depression, actually.  I wanted to shake it all off and move forward, but somehow, I just couldn't jump free of the grasp that feeling had upon me.  The clock kept ticking, but I wasn't making progress.  Then, it happened.

My cell phone rang.  The caller was a dear friend, Kristi Brown, who was calling just to see how things were going.  After we had our usual "hello" exchanges, she immediately began telling me how proud of me she is, because she knows I am accomplishing so much.  What on earth was she thinking?  She couldn't have known that I needed that call.  Yet, there she was, encouraging me and telling me the exact things I needed to hear so I could realize how much I was capable of accomplishing.

Encouragement!  That was the precise vitamin I needed.  And, it didn't take her but just a couple of minutes.  However, it made all the difference in my day.

Before the call was even over, I had risen from my chair and had begun organizing some materials on which I had needed to be working.

When we hung up our phones, I was like a windstorm.  I believe I accomplished more that day than I had the entire previous week!  What made the difference?

For me, it was someone else taking a few moments of their time and giving me a positive word.  She was telling me, perhaps in different words, that she believed in me and knew I was capable of making a significant, positive difference in the world.  She told me of ways I have meant a great deal to her.  She reminded me of impact I have had upon others' lives.  I didn't even have to tell her that I was in a "funk," because there was neither time nor need for that.

Her actions turned my day around.  Kristi's simple act moved me from apathy to activism -- from complacency to achievement.

Think of the other people on your team.  Are they achieving at the levels you wish?  At levels they wish?  Are they tired?  Or, are they losing focus of the project?  Are they becoming distracted?  Is their participation waning?  Perhaps, they are still working hard and seem to be productive team members, but they just need a little boost from someone else who can help them understand that their efforts are valued and are of great benefit to the team momentum.

You need to give someone that little push -- that little "lift" -- that can make all the difference.

Now, what can we learn from this?

I encourage you -- right now!  Actually, I encourage you to think of someone who means a great deal to you, then contact that person and thank them for what they mean in your life.  Send them the gift of encouragement.  You don't have to wait in long lines, run up charges on your credit card, or worry about the color of the gift wrap.  Just contact someone today.  Share with that friend your personal gift of encouragement.

See what a difference it makes in not only the life of the other person, but also in yours!

I encourage you to take action!

Let me know what happens.  OK?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Teacher as Coach

Outside the education realm, there is a great deal of activity emerging around the notion of "coaching."

We see evidence of life coaches, career coaches, business coaches, etc.

So, doesn't it seem to you that a career teacher is a natural candidate to serve as a coach?

Would you hire a life coach?

If so, why? If not, why not?

Have you served as a coach to others?

If so, what did you do? If not, why not?

As I study the nature of these new coaches, I am pleased to hear that the structure of life coaching, etc., is including many of the concepts that we discuss as classroom teachers. So, the bridge to this new career seems open and clear.

I just heard one coach say that "vision affects the way we move forward." Then, the coach went on to explain the difference between vision and eyesight. Following that, the coach described how, as a person develops the ability to be visionary, one's life improves. Things become clearer. Problems are avoided more easily. Many excellent concepts followed during this discussion to which I was privy.

So, what do you think? Do you want to create passive income? Do you want to extend your service to others? Maybe you are tired of "trading your time for money" (a REALLY weak idea!!) and would like to use your life to provide more value to society.

What about a teacher as a coach?

Let me hear from you.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

21st Century Learning: Who's on First?

Okay, friends....  Here's your chance to speak up.

With all the "hoopla" about 21st Century Learning in schools around the world, many of you are working hard to ensure that students gain essential skills that allow them to be competitive in a global economy.

So, among all the skills listed as essential by the various organizations, which skill do you think is most important?

Please leave your feedback here.  I believe your opinion will "seed" the thinking of other readers...and create an inspiring dialogue.

Be sure to comment, then come back and read others' thoughts.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Where's the accountability?

This past week, I led a full-day seminar on technology auditing (seminar title: Technology Audits Made Easy (TAME)) for several school districts.  As introductory information, I displayed charts that showed Federal funding levels for educational technology for the past 5-6 years.  

Then, I showed similar charts for Federal funds that came to their State.

Naturally, they were amazed.  

But, my question to them was, "Yes, but what do you know about how these funds are being used?"

As you might suspect, nobody had answers.  

The reality?  Accountability for ed tech funds going to schools in the US is, for all practical purposes, nonexistent! 

Does that fact bother you?  Does it cause you to remember that all these federal funds going to schools are actually YOUR money??

Just to emphasize the point, ponder this:

Federal $$ for EETT & E-Rate 2002-2006 = $14,021,625,084.93
Average per year = $2,804,325,016.99

This means that U.S. schools have received, on average, almost $3 Billion each year since 2002, yet we have almost no attention paid to accountability.  Amazing!

  • What were these funds used for?  
  • Who received the money?  
  • What is the ROI (Return on Investment) for our tax dollars that have been provided to support and promote educational technologies? 
  • Who is keeping track of these data?  
  • Where are the records?  
  • Is there any guarantee that current success with the money will yield future investments? 
  • Was the distribution of these funds reasonably equal?

So, what do you  think?

Am I overreacting?  Or, am I simply making the point for all of us who want to ensure that our tax dollars are being used properly?

I know this is only one aspect of accountability, but it is one!

Leave your comments here.  What do you think?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Ed Tech 2008

Yesterday, I had the privilege of being a featured speaker at Ed Tech 2008 in Ashland, VA.  The conference was held at Randolph-Mason College and was co-sponsored by the Virginia Commonwealth Public Broadcasting.

Several hundred eager educators attended this conference that is now in its 21st year.  What a terrific group of people these are -- and so imaginative, creative, and willing to strive for perfection in their classrooms.

My presentation was one of four in a series specifically for administrators.  The overall topic was "21st Century Learning."  Dr. Sara Armstrong led off in the first session by educating all of us about the various models of 21st Century Skills proposed by the: Partnership for 21st Century Skills; Metiri Group; and ISTE NETS•S (International Society for Technology in Education National Education Technology Standards • Students).

Following Dr. Armstrong, a collection of grass-roots educators at ITRTs (Instructional Technology Resource Teachers) from the Goochland, Powhatan, and Henrico County districts showed us working solutions from their schools.  This was an amazing presentation, delivered by fantastic young educators.  I was immensely impressed!

Following lunch and the conference keynote by Dr. Armstrong, I delivered my 50-minute session, 21st Century Learning: Practical, Proven Strategies for Implementation, as requested by conference organizers.  The time just FLEW!  Before I knew it, it was time to wrap up.  Attendees gave excellent suggestions and examples of implementing technologies to enhance these skills.

Now, my hope is that they will allow me to return next year in 2009!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

What Makes You Plan?

WHY do you plan?

We surely do hear a lot about planning, don't we?  But, is all this planning talk just something we do to occupy our time?  Or, is planning really a worthwhile experience?

What positive benefits come from planning?

So, I'm wanting to hear from you.  Send your comments and thoughts.

Just why do you plan?

What makes you plan?  Is it an internal drive to improve?  Is it a desire to make things better than they once were?  Or, do you have a specific goal in mind, and planning is the tool that will get you there?  What is it that really drives you to engage in planning?

So, imagine this.  A person walks into your office and you pull out your tech plan.  You give it to the person and say, "Here's my technology plan.  It will show you what I want to accomplish."

The person responds with a one word question that reverberates in your mind:


What do you say?

Leave your comments here.  I really, really want to know what you think!